Tag Archives: addiction

Breaking Point: #12

Today we have two teen Breaking Point stories– one of eating disorder and one of depression.  Perhaps you can relate personally or as a parent.  As I read these entries every morning, I at first feel a resistance to the experience of empathy and pain.  Yet with each one, by the end, something is released.  I hope it is the same for you.  Submissions are closed, but I encourage you to write your own Breaking Point story as a healing exercise. 

yrs. Laura

Submitted by: Natasha Kasprzyk , who blogs here.

“When You Know That It’s Real”

There was only one good thing about going to St. Juliana’s: Noon release on Fridays.

Early release from being teased at recess while the slap of jump ropes smacked on the blacktop, the stares of indignation when I, the Jew, dared to ask a question in Mrs. Lidgus’s Religion class; the hiding between the toilet and the back left corner of the bathroom stall, focusing my tear-filled eyes on the spit wads clinging to the ceiling, while Chris Flosi told Mary Fahey what an ugly fat slob I was.

In other words, release from (insert sign of the cross here) Hell.

Of course, early release meant trekking over to my mother’s office for the afternoon, because god forbid I actually get four hours of peace and be by myself in my own house…well, my mother’s house, that is. It wasn’t mine, I was reminded on a regular basis.

My one saving grace, one area of neutral territory between this version of jail and that, one place where I could seek solace was watched over by a benevolent little girl, face doused with freckles and topped with vibrant red, braided hair.

Wendy’s.

Every Friday, I stood in the winding line, waiting to approach the counter where I could spend MY money on MY lunch, as if the grease and cheese and starch and carbonation could transport me into a world without judgment, if only for a few, high-calorie minutes.

Kathy always worked the register on Fridays. Tightly cropped curls framed her face, and at the time I thought she wore an expression of focus, but now I wonder if it was resignation at what her career had become. She smiled when she saw me in line, as if I were an old friend who had come to break up the monotony of her day.

One afternoon, I knew I needed to make a change. This lunch just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. Whether I ordered my burger with extra ketchup or lettuce-free, it no longer brought me the pleasure it once had. Something was missing. And I decided that something was a second hamburger patty.

I finally arrived at the front of the line, ready to give Kathy my order, and in return, she would validate my existence for the week.

“Welcome to Wendy’s. How may I help you?”

Oh, Kathy, I thought. Enough with the pretenses…you could drop the formalities with me!

I smiled, cleared my throat, and said, “I’d like a combo meal, please…with a double cheeseburger.”

The corners of Kathy’s smile fell into a thin line, her lips held together tight until the right words were ready to come out. She looked left, checking to see if anyone would notice she was about to break character, leaned forward, and said, “Honey…do you really think you need that much food?”

Did she really just say that? Kathy, my one oasis in the middle of Hell?

I looked down to hide tears of embarrassment, put my money in my pocket, set my straw, two napkins, and four ketchup packets on the counter, and slipped out the side door.

I wasn’t hungry anymore.

 

Submitted by:  Mary Novaria

Her blog, A Work in Progress, is found here

Also on Facebook — www.facebook.com/mimsy811

A call from the school is rarely a good thing. When my phone rings and I see the caller ID, I resist the urge to let it go to voicemail, my thoughts wavering between now what? and impending doom.

“I have Hannah in my office,” says Mrs. K, the school psychologist. “She’s in a pretty dark place. Can you come to school so we can talk?”

“Of course,” I whisper calmly, although I am not calm.

Senior year. Until now, Hannah has attended school in our neighborhood. Less than a block away, I can see it from my kitchen window. It ‘s quicker to walk there than to drive and find parking. Wanting a fresh start, Hannah has transferred to a new school ten miles away.

I breathlessly sign in at the front office, a security measure that annoys me since I am in a mad dash to get to my daughter who doesn’t say much, but lets me hug her. We follow Mrs. K into a classroom and sit around a table with Hannah’s guidance counselor, assistant principal and gifted education teacher. They are concerned and sympathetic. Hannah looks small and pale. She’s huddled in a jacket with a sweatshirt pulled over her head, a state her dad calls being “hooded.” Hannah’s ever-present hoodie has become a security blanket, although it seems to make her more separate than secure. A symbol of retreat, the hoodie is a silent decree: Leave Me Alone. But a mother just can’t leave a troubled kid alone and neither can these educators who, although they’ve only known my daughter and our family for a few months, really seem to care.

“We are worried that Hannah isn’t safe, that she’s going to hurt herself.”

No one uses the word “suicide” or the phrase “kill herself” but we all know that’s what we’re talking about. The room begins to close in on me yet, somehow, also seems too cavernous for such an intimate discussion. High ceilings, fluorescent lights, institutional furniture… an assistant principal with tears in her eyes.

“I just want to get out of here.” It’s the only thing Hannah says.

“Before you can go,” Mrs. K says, “We need to be sure you’re not going to harm yourself, Hannah. Can you tell us you won’t?”

She can’t. Or she won’t. One thing I know about my daughter is she detests being on the spot. If she is backed into a corner she will dig in her heels and there will be an epic standoff. For the next hour, each of us tries to get a guarantee from Hannah that she’s not going to carry out some dark and deathly plan. I am grateful this isn’t my battle alone. Hannah knows exactly what she needs to do to escape this intervention and she won’t do it. It is a quiet and indirect cry for help.

“Hannah, I’m going to ask your mother to take you to the hospital…” Turning to me, Mrs. K asks, “Will you do that, Mom?”

“Yes. I will,” I say, aching from my tensed, furrowed brow to the knotted pit in my gut.

“No! I won’t go!” Hannah says defiantly.

“Then tell us you’re going to be safe,” someone pleads.

Silence.

We’re not making progress. The adolescent psych hospital is not far away.

“They won’t admit you unless they feel it’s necessary,” I tell Hannah.

I am glad someone else can decide. This is the fifth time in the last year Hannah has had a hospital assessment related to her severe anxiety and depression. The first resulted in a week-long day program. The most recent was a six-week inpatient treatment center 2,000 miles away. Now this.

At the hospital, Hannah still won’t articulate a safety plan and is thought to be a danger to herself. She is admitted. She is furious. I want to take her home but I am too scared. She was gone over Thanksgiving. And Christmas. Then, finally, home for New Year’s. We had a fresh start, a new beginning, a healthy girl, hope.

That was three weeks ago.

 

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Breaking Point: #1

I am hosting an end-of-winter series featuring stories from the trenches of pain.  My hope is that in sharing these breaking points, we will feel less alone.  Thank you all for your bravery.  You are helping the world to heal.  To participate and for more info go here.

yrs. Laura

Submitted by: Brian Farr Addictions Counselor

“I own you, you know.”

“Yes, I know that you do.”

I felt my heart racing and the panic raced through me as the vomit rose in my throat to the back of my mouth, cutting off my airway. Sitting up quickly, I put one hand on the cold, hard ground and felt a thick, chunky puddle of some sort between my fingers. The vomit in my throat receded as I rose, leaving a bitter, copper after taste. My head began to pound – a low, rhythmic thrumming of pressure and tightness that I knew would increase in intensity shortly. I closed my eyes for a moment to release the pressure, only to find that in the darkness the nausea quickly returned. There would be no escape.

A brief thought crossed my mind then to pray – to ask for relief and an end to this – and then the moment passed. Why bother? He’d had his chance and blown it. And so had I.

Instead I tried to visualize a quiet, calm place that might temporarily take the pain away. A happier time, perhaps, when every morning did not include dread, and sickness, and counting down the hours until I could once again return to sleep. No such memories offered themselves in this endless moment, and the tent in which I had awoken offered little solace. The stench of damp fabrics and my own toxic odor mixed with spilled alcohol and other fluids in this small area engulfed me then. The cold and dankness also began to seep in from all around, and I realized that the rotten freezing rain had never stopped all night.

I sat alone in silence and listened to the wet chilled wind beating a cadence on the tent. There was a time, a time which I thought was not so long ago, when the weather would not have seemed so foreboding. Now I felt its cold sneer like a judgmental statement from a trusted friend about the condition of my life, and my decisions, and the consuming sorrow that seemed to grow closer each day, each hour, each breath I took. It reminded me, without my asking, that if I dared to leave this place of sickness that what I would face would be insurmountable, unending and filled with disappointments and pain. Once outside there was no place to hide, no relief anywhere.

A whisper came from somewhere nearby, maybe somewhere within.

“Another drink could solve this. It could solve everything.”

From the projection room of my mind the clicking of reels began and an old film started to play, a grainy and faded tribute that I have seen before to my only true and lasting love.

It began with a young, anxious, hyper kid opening a can of beer and recoiling from the biting, harsh first kiss. He quickly moves in for another. Soon the scene switched to the same boy, drinking with his new friends – the friends whom he never felt comfortable with before. Not without the booze. This portion of the film included laughter, games, and drunken songs around various camp fires. The laughter continued as the film changes scenes and shows three young couples dressed for Prom night. Parents are snapping pictures as the sun shines down on the idyllic portrait. The film advanced to later in the night when all six are drinking in the borrowed van and feeling like royalty as they are chauffeured around through the long evening. More laughter and a familiar Phil Collins prom song plays into the next scene. The boy is slightly older now, in front of a college fraternity house in a large mob of people on a day filled with sunshine. He holds a plastic cup filled with beer and stands in a circle of other young co-eds kicking a foot bag and smiling. Reggae music plays in the background as the students smile and soak in the sun and the day and youth. The music continues into a fade out. Switch to a cold winter scene now inside of a ski gondola. The camera pans around to take in the majestic mountain panorama. Four happy, laughing friends huddled in the gondola dressed for a day on the slopes, passing a bottle of whiskey around while recounting events of the drunken night before. The film fades out again and opens on another scene, one looking out at crystal clear waters from the shore of an exotic beach. But something is wrong. The film begins to skip, and replay, and go out of focus now, and the sounds become distorted. The ticking of the reels gets louder and louder and lounder…

The retching began without warning inside of the small tent. No time to find the metal pot that undoubtedly is in here – somewhere – for just this purpose. I rolled onto my hands and knees and tried in vain to unzip the entrance. I was aware as this horrible, humiliating, unnatural process played out that I was expelling liquids, and I wondered how that was possible. How could anything be left inside of me? I wanted nothing more at that moment than to be completely empty of everything. To get everything out in the open.

As the horrible wave passed, leaving me shaking, and cold and helpless I dared to open my eyes again, and I focused on the red pool of blood on the tent floor. It was complete silence for a moment before the whisper came again:

“I own you, you know.”

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